The word and idea of beholding has been a theme for me throughout this year. To behold something is to see or observe; to watch, contemplate, consider and perceive. 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least and has shifted what we are seeing and how we are observing it. Although we are all “seeing” the same events unfold, how we are observing them has changed and is unique for each of us. We have had more time to watch, contemplate and consider the things we are seeing, yet very limited ability to act on it, which has produced a variety of responses in us. Many have responded emotionally in anger, depression, anxiety, etc. Others have responded relationally in isolation, rebellion, hatred, love/service. Still others have responded cognitively in study, writing, advocacy, etc. There have been many “healthy” and “unhealthy” responses to the changes we have perceived in 2020.

The thing about beholding is that it prompts a response; when something is truly contemplated, it produces new thoughts, feelings or actions. Thoughts, feelings and actions that are not produced of themselves, but out of belief. Beholding shapes what we know and what we believe. When we behold something of weight and worth, it often challenges and changes what we know and what we believe. Yet it is what we believe, not what we know, that drives all that we do. It dictates who we are... what we become.

What have your responses revealed about your beliefs? As you have beheld 2020 what was produced in you? What thoughts were stirred in you as you watched videos of George Floyd? What feelings emerged as you hid away while the world shut down? What did you tend to do when election season heated up? What did you start believing when all that you knew changed so rapidly? We must consider what we believe and what those beliefs are causing us to become.

Beholding > Believing > Becoming

Humans usually seek change, starting from the wrong end of this process. We start at who we are, seeking to change our actions, feelings and thoughts. Although not wrong in and of itself, this kind of behavior modification will not produce lasting change because it doesn’t change who we fundamentally are. To change who we are, we must change what we believe. We operate out of what we believe and what we believe is shaped by what and how we behold.

As embodied creatures, we must behold the world around us - the circumstances, events, relationships, culture, etc. We cannot, and should not, seek to separate ourselves from the world around us. We must instead learn to behold it in a way that changes us; through a lens that is far more broad and eternal than our narrow and temporal earthly one. We need new eyes that see rightly.

As believers, we can behold something bigger than ourselves; Someone bigger than ourselves. Much like viewing the picture on the box of a puzzle, the Gospel narrative gives much clearer a view through which to behold the individual pieces of the broken world around us. Beholding sin and suffering up close is confusing, sickening and maddening. It causes us to believe things are hopeless, we/or someone else is to blame, or countless other things that lead us to become bitter, depressed, anxious, angry, volatile or superior. But by beholding God, we are able to see the same sin and suffering as a result of the Fall. We see a world that wasn’t created to be this way. We see a world that breaks God’s heart so much that he set forth a plan to redeem it. We see Jesus, who came to defeat the sin and suffering we have been subjected to ever since. And finally, we see eternity, where it will all be restored to that original design without sin and suffering (Romans 8:18-25). As we behold that narrative, we are able to believe the truths of God rather than the lies of the enemy. As we behold His unattainable character of control, power, omniscience, ever-presence, perfection, goodness and mercy, we are able to let go of seeking those roles for ourselves. Only then are we able to become like Him in hope, faith, grace, mercy, love, joy, peace, patience and steadfastness - even as we continue to behold and be part of the brokenness around us.

So may we all behold the King this Christmas. Just as the characters of the nativity, let’s end this year of 2020 beholding Jesus in light of all the brokenness around us. Let’s behold the hope of God, carefully orchestrating His plan of redemption amidst the broken state of those He came to save. Let’s believe His promise to be near, to be with us, so that He might change us to become like Him - a light in the darkness.